Monthly Archives: July 2016
In some situations, a fight against law enforcement and the Department of Motor Vehicles may occur. Each agency requires a separate hearing or case that is not connected to the other in most states. To ensure the best possible assistance is obtained to assist with these issues, a capable defense lawyer is often necessary. The ability to regain a driver’s license and driving privileges is usually at stake in these situations. Without assistance, severe penalties may be issued.
Accidents and Loss of Driving Privileges
When a person has even a minor traffic accident, tickets for speeding or other similar transgressions, it is possible to lose the privilege to drive a vehicle. In many states, even lesser crimes are taken seriously with all possible penalties and fines issued to the transgressor. Penalties of extensive fines, jail or prison terms and points added to a driving record may arise through these actions. Convictions of traffic offenses may also merit other penalties depending upon the severity of the crime and the circumstances surrounding the case.
Consequences of Some Crimes
Implications of conviction may differ by state, but some start at specific amounts for fines as well as jail or prison terms issued. Reckless driving often has penalties in fines up to $2,500 in addition to a year or less in jail or a state prison. Driving privileges may also be removed for as much as six months after all other penalties have been completed. For DUI cases, the convicted person may be required to obtain and pay for an ignition interlock device that does not allow them to drive without blowing air into it to check blood alcohol levels beforehand. Speeding usually is accompanied by fines through tickets unless the driver is evading an arrest by law enforcement or traveling at excessive speeds. These crimes often come with jail or prison terms.
For those that decide to drive with their license suspended, additional penalties may be issued. These crimes are considered just as serious as the original offense that caused the suspension. Some states may issue fines up to $2,500 and a year in jail or prison in addition to what was originally issued for the first crime committed. This usually also requires additional months or years added onto the suspension of the license. The time may be added on, doubled, tripled or remain the same depending upon state law and other factors. When someone drives with a suspended license, these offenses are usually on a person’s driving record for up to eleven years after the conviction. This usually causes an increase in automobile insurance or a removal from the company with discontinued coverage.
The Need for Legal Assistance
Some drivers who are accused and arrested for these crimes may decide they do not need a lawyer in these proceedings. Simply pleading guilty may be the fastest way to end a case, but it is usually the most costly in the long run. A legal representative may explain all the options that are available, answer any questions about the case and situation and deliver an efficient defense. Even if a lawyer is not hired to represent the defendant in court, it is important to consult one to go over all routes.
Every aspect of the arresting officer’s circumstances, disciplinary record and training may be explored to aid in the cross-examination. Marks in his or her disciplinary record may be used to affect the credibility of the officer at trial. Even his or her memory of the events may be attacked, especially if only supported by a poorly written police report.
Another way that a cross-examination may be effective is by challenging an officer who portrays himself or herself as an expert. This is more likely to occur in cases involving field sobriety tests initiated after suspicion of drinking and driving. For example, a law enforcement officer may state that he or she observed the defendant’s eyes jerking during the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. By attacking the officer’s credibility based on his or her lack of medical training or limited experience, the criminal defense lawyer can help build reasonable doubt.
Denial of a Legal Representative
If a criminal defendant asks for a lawyer clearly and unwaveringly, law enforcement officers should not continue to question the defendant. A criminal defendant has a right to legal counsel once he or she is in custody and is questioned. Law enforcement must wait a reasonable time to question the defendant after he or she asserts the right to legal counsel.
Mistakes by Law Enforcement
If a law enforcement hears or sees something incriminating because of a police mistake, this evidence may be thrown out as inadmissible due to the legal doctrine of fruit of the poisonous tree.
In some states, an anonymous report may not provide sufficient grounds for a law enforcement officer to make a stop.
Challenge Sobriety Checkpoints
Sobriety checkpoints must often follow very strict rules based on state law. A criminal defense lawyer can investigate if this checkpoint followed the proper protocol or not.
Challenge Field Sobriety Tests or Breathalyzer Tests
In DUI cases, a criminal defense lawyer may challenge how a field sobriety test or Breathalyzer test was administered to assert that proper procedures were not followed.
Provide Feasible Alternative Explanation
There may be innocent explanations that can help explain suspicious behavior and characteristics such as unsteady balance, slurred speech, incomprehensible speech, red eyes and other factors. Factors such as bad weather, uneven ground, taking prescribed medication or having literacy problems may explain some of these behaviors.
Challenge BAC Results
There is often a dispute in DUI cases involving a BAC reading above the legal limit as to whether the reading accurately portrays the BAC at the time of the stop. Studies show that it may take anywhere between 30 minutes and here hours for the body to absorb alcohol. Some criminal defense lawyers may argue that the BAC was continuing to rise after the defendant was stopped and arrested and that his or her BAC level was much lower when actually stopped.
The defense has the constitutional right to call witnesses that support his or her defense. Witnesses may provide an alternative observation that supports the defendant.
Lack of Specific Intent
In some cases, the prosecution has the duty to show that the defendant had the specific intent to commit a particular crime. For example, in theft cases, the prosecution may have to show that the defendant had the intent to permanently deprive the owner of an item that he or she lawfully owned. Without this intent, the defendant cannot be convicted.
Each person who is sentenced to probation must follow the conditions of probation or risk facing imprisonment. There may be standard conditions that include not getting arrested for another crime in the same jurisdiction or anywhere else, not having relationships with people who are associated with criminal activity, submitting to routine or unexpected drug tests, consenting to searches and having to meet with a probation officer at certain intervals. There may be additional conditions that are more specific to the crime charged or to the defendant.
The individual under probation may be required to report information to the probation officer. This may include his or her current address, employment or other issues. When these things change, the defendant may be required to report these changes.
Restricted Travel Condition
Another standard probation condition is having travel restricted. The types of restrictions that are imposed often depend on the circumstances of the case, the defendant’s habits, the defendant’s employment and other factors. It is important that the criminal defendant has a clear understanding of the conditions of his or her probation, including all travel restrictions.
It is common for a person on probation not to be allowed to leave the state without receiving express written consent from his or her probation officer. Before leaving the state or country, it is important that the defendant speak with his or her parole officer about potential plans to see if this travel is permitted. If the plans are not approved and the defendant travels anyway, this action can result in the defendant being found to have violated the terms and conditions of his or her probation and being subject to penalties related to the violation.
If a probation officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that the defendant has violated the terms and conditions of probation, he or she can order the arrest of the defendant without having to secure a warrant or create an affidavit to a judge. A person who is found to have violated probation may be subject to additional sentencing, often for the sentence that was suspended at the time of sentencing.
It may be possible in some situations to modify probation terms. These modifications may include a reduction in the amount of time when probation must be served, how often a defendant may have to meet with a probation officer or the elimination of certain conditions such as travel restrictions.
How modifications are handled vary in each area. Some areas will believe that a probation order is final and should not be altered. Some judges are willing to modify probation readily if the person serving probation has demonstrated that he or she has successfully complied with probation terms. Some judges will wait until at least half of the probation term has been served before considering making a modification. In addition to jurisdictional variations, the ability to modify probation also depends on the judge who oversees the case and the individual circumstances of the case.
It is vital that a person understand that if he or she has been placed on probation as part of the sentencing process that he or she must carefully abide by the conditions imposed by probation. All of the rules must be followed from the beginning until the end of the probation term. If a person is found to have violated probation, he or she may face time in prison. A criminal defense lawyer may be able to explain the terms and conditions of probation and the consequences of not carefully following the rules.